Thursday, June 30, 2011

New realistic British policy on self-defence

Householders were yesterday given licence to kill burglars with knives or pokers without fear of prosecution. Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke suggested people would be judged to have acted within the law as long as they did not shoot intruders in the back as they were running away down the road. And he pledged that an act of Parliament would be used to ‘clarify’ the existing legal right to use reasonable force against intruders.

Prime Minister David Cameron last week promised that the Government would ‘put beyond doubt that homeowners and small shopkeepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their properties will not be prosecuted’.

The move follows public outrage at cases like that of Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer who shot dead a burglar, and Munir Hussain, who chased and beat a man who had held his family at knifepoint in their home.

‘If an old lady finds she has got an 18-year-old burgling her house and she picks up a kitchen knife and sticks it in him, she has not committed a criminal offence and we will make that clear,’ Mr Clarke said. ‘There is no doubt that you or I or anybody else is entitled to use reasonable force to defend ourselves and to protect ourselves or our homes or both. ‘We will make it quite clear you can hit the burglar with the poker if he is in the house and you have a perfect defence if you do so.’

Mr Clarke accepted that the defence of reasonable force already exists, but said: ‘Given that doubts are expressed, we are going to clarify that.

‘It is quite obvious that people are entitled to use whatever force is necessary to protect themselves and their homes. What they are not entitled to do is go running down the road chasing them or shooting them in the back when they are running away or to get their friends together and go and beat them up. ‘Nobody should prosecute and nobody should ever convict anybody who takes these steps.’

Labour's justice spokesman Sadiq Khan accused the Government of using 'spin and smokescreens of new laws in an attempt to distract from what is a Justice Bill in total shambles'

An official spokesman for David Cameron said that the Prime Minister was 'very pleased' with Mr Clarke's remarks, but Labour's justice spokesman Sadiq Khan, right, said the Justice Bill is in 'total shambles'

It is not clear whether a clause will be added to the Government’s Justice Bill later in the year, or guidelines to police, prosecutors and courts will be strengthened.


One in four accused of 'street grooming' in Britain is a Pakistani or Bangladeshi Muslim

One in four men accused of ‘street grooming’ underage girls for sex is Asian, a shocking report reveals. In total, 2,379 offenders are suspected of attempting to lure vulnerable victims, often using drugs and alcohol, over the past three years.

And a ‘disproportionate’ 28 per cent of them were found to be Asian, in those cases where ethnicity was recorded. The ethnic group makes up just six per cent of the UK population.

But although the figures are likely to provoke controversy, officials warn that they are incomplete and potentially misleading.

The report was ordered after the ringleaders of a Derby gang, which subjected a string of vulnerable girls to rapes and sexual assaults, were jailed earlier this year. Following the case, former home secretary Jack Straw accused some Pakistani men in Britain of seeing white girls as ‘easy meat’ for sexual abuse.

Several police forces have investigations currently going on into gangs suspected of systematically abusing young girls.

The latest figures were revealed in the most detailed assessment yet of a crime that takes place ‘under the radar’.

Civil servants have spent weeks arguing over how best to present the potentially incendiary findings of the six-month study, which examined figures dating back to 2008. It found that of 1,217 offenders whose ethnicity had been recorded, 346 were Asian, 367 white, 38 black, 464 unknown and two Chinese.

Analysis revealed that 28 per cent of offenders are Asian. The majority of offenders were men aged between 18 and 24, with many using flattery and gifts to make victims believe they had an ‘older boyfriend’. Of the 2,083 victims, 61 per cent were white, and most aged 14 or 15. Many were in care, or had a history of running away from home.

And many victims were reluctant to speak to police and feared appearing in court because ‘they did not expect to be believed’.

However, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre said its research is incomplete because authorities across the UK are failing to record basic information.

Peter Davies, who leads the agency, said local authorities charged with protecting children are failing to take ‘elementary steps’, including recording statistics. He said: ‘This is a horrific crime, it involves the systematic, premeditated rape of young children. ‘There should be no hiding place anywhere for people who plan and take part in this type of crime.

‘Victims need a level of help and support that in most parts of the country they do not receive and is not on offer to them.’ Mr Davies admitted the figures did reveal a ‘disproportionate’ number of male, Asian offenders. But he warned: ‘Focusing on this problem simply through the lens of ethnicity does not do it service.’

In the Derby case, Abid Saddique and Mohammed Liaqat, part of a gang of nine, cruised the streets of the town, picking victims who they plied with vodka and cocaine before attacking them. In January, they were told they would serve a minimum of 11 years and eight years respectively before they could be considered for release.

The Government will publish an action plan in the autumn, detailing how it will respond to concerns about the sexual exploitation of children. Last week, Children’s Minister Tim Loughton provoked a row by suggesting that ‘closed’ Asian communities have turned a blind eye to child sex grooming by gangs of men. He said criminals had escaped detection because of attitudes within their communities as well as ‘political correctness and racial sensitivities’ of the authorities.

Anne Marie Carrie, of Barnado’s said the report confirms not all victims come forward. ‘Still more children remain trapped under the control of their abusers because we are failing to spot the signs,’ she warned.

Home Office Minister James Brokenshire said: ‘This assessment is an important step in our understanding an extremely complex issue.’


Obama admin. tried to save America from dumb, unskilled Southerners

Hate speech from the Left

I had to check my paper copy of the Wall Street Journal today to make sure this wasn’t some elaborate prank. Then I double-checked what year it is, to make sure I hadn’t been slingshotted around the sun and found myself back in 1975.

That’s about when I remember it last being routine for Rust Belt lawyers to publicly disparage the skills and education of people from the South. The only thing missing from the op-ed by Chicago-based lawyer Thomas Geoghegan is the word “hick” or “hillbilly.” WSJ is to be applauded for its determination to feature different viewpoints, but Geoghegan’s piece certainly pushes the envelope.

The topic is the NLRB ruling against Boeing moving its assembly plant for the Dreamliner to South Carolina. And it really is as bad as my intro suggests. Go read it, if you think I may be cherry-picking or making a mountain out of a molehill. I’ll wait. OK, here’s that last paragraph again:

Most depressing of all, Boeing’s move would send a market signal to those considering a career in engineering or high-skilled manufacturing …: Don’t go to engineering school, don’t bother with fancy apprenticeships, don’t invest in skills.

In case you miss the point of the piece, here’s another go at it: “We should be aghast that Boeing is sending a big fat market signal that it wants a less-skilled, lower-quality work force.”

And this:

… because of [our] trade deficit, foreign creditors have the country in their clutches. That’s not because of our labor costs … It’s because we have too many poorly educated and low-skilled workers that are simply unable to compete.

And Boeing wants to turn the manufacture of airplanes – airplanes! – over to these poorly educated, low-skilled workers in South Carolina.

Here’s a weird fact, though. There is already a plant manufacturing rear-fuselage elements for Boeing in South Carolina. (The Dreamliner final-assembly plant that opened 10 June is located next to it.) South Carolina also has a BMW plant, a Honda plant, a Bosch plant, a Caterpillar plant, an American LaFrance plant (fire engines and ambulances), and a Daimler plant, all employing highly-skilled labor to manufacture big, intricate stuff that has to work. That’s in addition to the Milliken, BASF, GE, Core, Bose, BP, DAK, DuPont, Eastman, Mitsubishi, Albemarle, MeadWestvaco, PhilChem, Roche, Mount Vernon Mills, Invista, Metromont, Johns Manville, Alcoa, Kimberly-Clark, Shaw, Jarrett, Mohawk, Anderson, AccuTrex, Sonoco, and Cox Industries plants – and those are just the ones I recognized by industry as I looked through the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance website. I left out a bunch of other ones.

Should I go on? If Southern manufacturing workers are a national liability, we’re in big trouble. All those aircraft engines being mishandled at the Pratt & Whitney plant in Georgia. Shoddy VWs and Nissans coming out of Tennessee, Hyundai clunkers being puked out of Alabama, lousy Kias flooding the market from Georgia, Toyota risking its customers on the gap-toothed th’owbacks who show up with employment applications in Mississippi.

Texas is going to get us all killed: there are 248 separate listings for aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturers just in the Dallas area alone. And let’s not even get started on all the scary, substandard manufacturing going on in North Carolina, where Honda headquarters its global aircraft-components manufacturing, and thousands of non-agricultural manufacturers are heaving chemicals, plastics, textiles, engine parts, computer parts, airplane and vehicle parts, and who know what else at an unsuspecting market every day of the year.

It’s a meltdown. So many things are now manufactured in the poorly educated, low-skilled South, it’s a wonder you’re not dead yet.

Just a couple of sober points. One, the South Carolina average manufacturing wage of $14 an hour isn’t what the most experienced workers, with the most difficult skill-sets and the longest time on the job, make. Calculating the state’s average wage (for all “production” workers) takes into account lower-wage workers like food processors ($8-12 per hour), sewing-machine operators ($10 an hour), and furniture finishers ($11 an hour).

But first-line supervisors in equipment manufacturing plants make over $25 an hour. Computerized-machine operators in manufacturing make over $20 an hour; operators of grinding, lapping, buffing, and polishing machines make over $19 an hour, and welders, solderers, and brazers make $16-17 an hour. The average skilled manufacturing worker in an industry like Boeing’s is making $16-21 an hour in South Carolina – and that’s an average. Some workers make more, depending on skills, seniority, and position.

The average in Washington State, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $16.75 per hour, for all “production” workers in the same period (figures are for 2010). Mr. Geoghegan pulls the demagogue’s trick of comparing the South Carolina state average with the union pay of some (not all) Boeing workers in Washington. The actual wage differential for the same types of work is $1-3 an hour – not $14.

The second point relates to Geoghegan’s discussion of the Boeing “retaliation” against past worker strikes in Washington. Geoghegan makes the supremely cynical case that if the CEO of Boeing had simply kept his mouth shut about moving to South Carolina because of the cost of strikes in Washington, he could have brought off the move without interference from the Feds.

But it is a corrupt kind of “law” that can be gotten around so easily. The purpose of properly-constituted law is not to show meaningless solidarity with unions. It is to define what government will prosecute and punish. Law that has to be ignored, gamed, and gotten around in order for human life to function – and law that can be ignored, gamed, and gotten around – loses the respect of the people, and corrupts their consciences and the consciences of government officials. If the law in question is so unlikely to be enforced, then the most important point of all is that we don’t need it in the first place.


Big Daddy and video games in California

When it comes to monitoring their children's media diets, some parents worry about sex, while others worry about violence. I worry more about inane sitcoms featuring smart-alecky kids and dumb adults, which is why I have blocked the Disney channel.

Different parents have different standards, and the same parents are likely to have different standards for different children, depending on their age, maturity and personality. Because of this diversity, policies that aim to bolster parental authority by restricting minors' access to material the government deems inappropriate, such as the California video game law that the Supreme Court overturned this week, would be doomed to fail even if they did not violate the First Amendment.

California's law made selling or renting a "violent video game" to a minor a civil offense punishable by a $1,000 fine. It covered games "in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being," depicted in a way that "a reasonable person, considering the game as a whole, would find appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors," that is "patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community as to what is suitable for minors" and that "causes the game, as a whole, to lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."

The thing about reasonable people, of course, is that they may disagree, especially on such abstruse issues as whether a video game appeals to a minor's "deviant or morbid interest," whatever that might be. "Prevailing standards in the community," which determine what is "patently offensive," are likewise a matter of dispute. Pretending that everyone in California agrees about "what is suitable for minors," or sees eye to eye on the redeeming value of violent entertainment, does not make it so.

The one thing all parents probably do agree on is that teenagers should not be treated like toddlers. Yet that is what California's legislators decided to do, decreeing one (indeterminate) standard for everyone under 18. The industry's game ratings, by contrast, draw six distinctions based on age and use 30 "content descriptors" to indicate the nature of potentially objectionable material.

Since parents can use these ratings to regulate what their children play (and can even use system settings to block games with certain ratings), what was the motivation for California's law? "California cannot show that the Act's restrictions meet a substantial need of parents who wish to restrict their children's access to violent video games but cannot do so," the Supreme Court concluded.

"Not all of the children who are forbidden to purchase violent video games on their own have parents who care whether they purchase violent video games," Justice Antonin Scalia noted in the majority opinion, questioning the premise that "punishing third parties for conveying protected speech to children just in case their parents disapprove of that speech is a proper governmental means of aiding parental authority." He suggested that the main effect of the law was to enforce "what the State thinks parents ought to want" -- the opposite of respecting parental authority.

On the same day the Court overturned California's video game law, it agreed to consider a First Amendment challenge to the federal ban on broadcast indecency, another policy that imposes government-determined standards of propriety in the name of helping parents protect their children. It features the same sort of constitutionally problematic vagueness and subjectivity, yet applies to adults as well as minors, banning "patently offensive" material related to sex or excretion between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Like California's law, which arbitrarily distinguished between video games and other forms of violent entertainment, the indecency ban is "wildly underinclusive," applying to broadcast TV and radio but not to programming carried by cable, satellite or the Internet. In both cases the solution is not to expand the government's cultural regulations but to privatize them by letting people raise their own children.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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